From the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of Hunting Eichmann and The Perfect Mile, an epic adventure and spy story about the greatest act of sabotage in all of World War II.
It's 1942 and the Nazis are racing to be the first to build a weapon unlike any known before. They have the physicists, they have the uranium, and now all their plans depend on amassing a single ingredient: heavy water, which is produced in Norway's Vemork, the lone plant in all the world that makes this rare substance. Under threat of death, Vemork's engineers push production into overdrive.
For the Allies, the plant must be destroyed. But how would they reach the castle fortress set on a precipitous gorge in one of the coldest, most inhospitable places on Earth?
Based on a trove of top secret documents and never-before-seen diaries and letters of the saboteurs, The Winter Fortress is an arresting chronicle of a brilliant scientist, a band of spies on skies, perilous survival in the wild, sacrifice for one's country, Gestapo manhunts, soul-crushing setbacks, and a last-minute operation that would end any chance Hitler could obtain the atomic bomb - and alter the course of the war.
©2016 Neal Bascomb (P)2016 Neal Bascomb
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"Needs a different narrator!!!!"
Absolutely amazing story & great writing but unfortunately the worst reading I've ever heard on audible
"Don’t Dismiss This Book Because of the Narration!"
General - I surmise that you will listen to the sample and lament aloud; “what on earth do these publishers think when they pick a narrator!?” I thought the very same thing and I really struggled on this title because of that. I left this book in my wish list for weeks; periodically going back and seeing if I could deal with it for 14-hours. Ultimately, the overwhelming urge to listen to this story outweighed my reluctance to hear the narrator and I decided to give it a go. I always had the option to return it after an hour if I found myself trying to gouge out my inner ears.
Content - I made a spot-on choice by getting this book. The Winter Fortress is fully detailed without getting boring, as often happens with books like this. The moments of combat action, the real guts of the story, are exactly on point as truth becomes stranger than fiction. It does flow like a good thriller novel; yet the reality of what these brave men did was never lost on me as I listened. The book didn’t manage to evoke any emotion, but it did make me reflect on the lives of the people and how they sacrificed for a greater cause.
Length – It’s a relatively long book, but I think it included every germane fact that was essential to properly and comprehensively tell this story. I did miss some information while listening simply because of the amount of content, but I’ll catch what I missed on a second listen at a later date. The story may have been a bit fat in some areas, but the amount of filler pales in comparison to the entire story.
Narration – I think even Mr. Sorensen would admit he’s no Simon Vance, but then again who is? After listening to every minute of this book I can honestly say that Mr. Sorensen is not a “bad” narrator, he’s just very different from what I’m accustomed to. I reached a mental truce with his style after about an hour and even though he didn’t add to the book he certainly didn’t detract from it either. He enunciates very clearly and his cadence is pretty good. Yes, his inflection is a bit odd, especially on conclusion of some sentences. His imitations of people's accents are non-existent, but accents can be a double-edged sword; so I appreciate that he didn’t try, simply to fail badly. Even though this book would likely be ‘better’ with a different narrator the story itself is so interesting that the narration was pretty much irrelevant to me.
Summation – If you are a history or WW II buff, or you enjoy real life stories that read like thriller novels, you will like this book regardless of the narration. I urge you give this book a try even if the narrator is not your cup of tea.
"Style vs. sound"
Not every writing style works well as an audiobook. In the first half of Winter Fortress the author uses names only sparingly, preferring to refer to his subject as "he" or "him" until the topic shifts to another person, whose name will then be mentioned once .As a result, listeners unable to fully concentrate for extended periods of time will have particular difficulty following the story, and separating one Norwegian saboteur from the others. The story picks up midway, as members of the Grouse and Swallow teams battle starvation, needing to use stone-age survival skills in order to carry out their orders to delay or prevent the start of the atomic age. Once Operation Gunnerside kicks into gear, the story picks up speed, and maintains it until the end of the book. Had the publisher assigned an editor with a greater sensitivity to the needs of audiobook listeners, minor changes could have been made that would have made it much less tempting to switch to another book before the most dramatic action really begins.
"Read this book!"
Amazing story of honor, bravery, heroism and sacrifice. Read this book, you'll be glad you did!
I had known that the Nazis were pursuing an atomic bomb and the heavy water experiments but I did not know how big a role that resistance fighters had in thwarting the efforts. This handful of men changed the course of history and the detailed story of their struggle should be widely known.
interesting account of the nazi attic bomb project and the destruction by Norway of a key ingredient. Gets a little long at times
"As entertaining as nonfiction gets."
It took me a little while to get used to the narrator but I absolutely loved this book.
"Extraordinary Story, Known By Few"
Neal Bascomb has unpacked and presented an heroic adventure that quite possibly changed world history. The importance of heavy water to the Germans was paramount for their nuclear weapons program. This is the story of how Norweign commandos (chiefly) disrupted the German pursuit of heavy water at a plant in Norway and as this "liquid gold" was being transported to Germany. The tenacity and heroics of the commandos is simply epic.
Bascomb writes well. The narrator, however, has a strange drop in his voice at the end of many sentences. It's distracting. That said, the story itself and the detail developed by Bascomb make the book a great listen. I couldn't wait to walk in the morning so I could hear the next installment.
"Action, adventure, heroism, and it's all true!"
The book reads like fiction, but it captures the true story of Norwegian and British heroes who did their part to ensure Hitler never had a chance of getting the A-bomb. The book wonderfully captures the character and struggles of the men who braved natural and man-made dangers for years to prevent our instruct the production of heavy water at Vemork. while doing that, it gives a unique perspective on the Norwegian underground's broader straight to counter the German occupation and into life in occupied Norway. We'll read and well written. I'd strongly recommend it to history buffs or anyone who likes a good adventure. I would suggest that anyone who is going to listen, start by looking up Vemork, Norway on the map. You'll also want to find Hardangervidda National Park ("the vidda") and lake Møsvatn ("Lake Møs") to get an appreciation where the story is taking place. when you do you'll find how truly humbling the men's accomplishments really were.
"simple people become great heros"
the tragedy of war and the quality in humans that arise from it... very well written, you feel like your there.
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